Celebrating AHPs- our unique workforce

What happens in the NHS if you aren’t a doctor, nurse, or part of corporate services? Well, you are more than likely part of the third largest workforce in the NHS, an Allied Health Professional. Allied Health Professionals or AHPs, are ‘professionally autonomous professionals’* who provide care to assess, treat, diagnose, and discharge patients across social care, housing, education and independent and voluntary sectors. Ever wondered who teaches you how to walk after an accident, or who trains you to talk after a stroke? — It’s these guys!

AHPs take a holistic approach to care and can care for patients right across their life span. From new-born babies to end of life care, an AHPs aim is to improve the wellbeing of their patients.

There are fourteen different recognised allied health professions that include; Art, Drama, Music Chiropodists/podiatrists, Occupational, Speech and language therapists as well as Dietitians, Operating Department Practitioners, Orthoptists, Osteopaths, Paramedics, Physiotherapists, Radiographers and Prosthetists and Orthotists. But what makes them all different? And why is this staff group so unique? To celebrate AHP day, we’ve asked three AHPs to share their carer journey and what inspired them to take up a role in their given field.

Susan Ho, Professional Lead for AHPs in Mental Health.

“I am a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) by profession and I have worked for the NHS in community, acute and adult mental health settings within Hampshire and Sussex. My journey to becoming a SLT can best be described as an unintentional, circuitous one. I had not heard of this profession at school, college or at university, or even in my day-to-day life, but it was until certain life events led me to cross paths with SLTs, that I re-trained to become one myself. SLTs can work with clients across the entire lifespan, from cradle to grave, providing life-improving treatment, support and care for children and adults who have difficulties with their eating, drinking, or swallowing, their communication and so much more. At last, I had found an occupation that satisfied my interest in linguistics, my desire to work within healthcare to help and support patients and their loved ones and my wish to meaningfully contribute to my local community.

I started my current this year, and it has been a major shift from my clinical work as a SLT. It is a privilege to champion, showcase and nurture the growth of our AHPs.”

Su Ho, Professional Lead for AHPs in Mental Health.

Eleanor Corbett, Consultant Practitioner in Frailty.

“I qualified as an Occupational Therapist a number of years ago and have had a very varied career. I have been fortunate to work in adult social care, mental health services and physical health services in hospitals and the community, specialising in frailty over the past 5 years. When I joined Southern Health 11 years ago, I worked as a community OT, before becoming Team Lead for Community Care Teams, which included therapists and nurses.

I chose to become an Occupational Therapist as the diversity of jobs really appealed to me. Occupational Therapists really make a difference helping people to live their best life, helping them overcome challenges completing everyday tasks or activities. Occupational Therapists work with those living with mental health conditions, or physical or learning disabilities in a variety of setting including hospitals, care homes and people’s owns homes. We really focus on ‘What matters to you?”, rather than “What is the matter with you?”

Eleanor Corbett, Consultant Practitioner in Frailty.

Jonathan Booth, Creative Therapies Development Lead & Music Therapist

“Something short about their journey & why did they choose to work in their specific field of AHP: Prior to training as a Music Therapist, I served in the Royal Marines Band Service, and I was privileged to travel the world performing and seeing the positive impact music had on people’s wellbeing. However, I also saw friends and colleagues return from places like Iraq & Afghanistan changed by their experiences and unable to talk about what they had witnessed. This, coupled with the experience of a family member hugely benefiting from Music Therapy got me thinking about how music could help with trauma, fast forward a few years and now here I am!

I have spent most of my career working with young people either with mental health problems or in the care system, helping them process what they have experience and build for the future. These roles have been in the NHS but also with Third-Sector and Charity Organisations. I feel very privileged to do what I do, witnessing first-hand the transformational power of creative mediums within therapy. I am really passionate about the unique potential of the Creative Therapies across whole spectrum of healthcare, in particular how they so often have the ability to reach those who may not be able to access other therapeutic interventions.”

Jonathan Booth, Creative Therapies Development Lead & Music Therapist

If you would like to find out more about Allied Health Professional roles at Southern Health at a look at our .

*Professionally autonomous professional- professions who are governed by their own professional code of ethics.

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Southern Health

Southern Health provide community, specialist mental health and learning disability services for people across the south of England.